Universal Analytics is the older version of Google Analytics. It was introduced in 2013, and it’s a robust platform that allows website owners to track a wide range of metrics, such as pageviews, sessions, and users. It also offers advanced features like cross-device tracking and custom dimensions and metrics.
GA4 is the newer version of Google Analytics. It was introduced in 2020, and it’s designed to be more user-friendly and easier to use. It also offers new features that are not available in Universal Analytics, such as automatic event tracking and the ability to integrate with other Google products like Google Ads and Google Tag Manager.
GA4, on the other hand, uses a new tracking code called the “Global Site Tag” (gtag.js). This code is placed on the website once and automatically collects data on various events, such as clicks and form submissions. This means that GA4 can collect more detailed data without requiring website owners to manually configure and manage tracking codes.
Another difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is the way that data is organized and reported. Universal Analytics organizes data into “views” and “properties.” A view is a collection of data from a specific website or app, and a property is a specific website or app. This means that website owners need to create a separate view and property for each website or app that they want to track.
Alternatively, GA4 organizes data into “streams” and “measurements,” where a stream is a collection of data from a specific website or app, and a measurement is a specific metric being tracked, such as pageviews or sessions. This enables website owners to track multiple metrics within a single stream, which simplifies data management and analysis.
In terms of reporting, Universal Analytics provides a vast array of pre-built reports that can be tailored to display specific metrics and dimensions. Meanwhile, GA4 offers pre-built reports as well, but it also enables website owners to create custom reports using a feature called “Data Studio.” This feature enables website owners to construct custom reports and dashboards that exhibit precisely the data they wish to see.
In general, Universal Analytics and GA4 differ significantly in the methodologies used for data collection and organization. While Universal Analytics is a more comprehensive platform, offering a wide range of advanced features and customization options, it also necessitates that website owners manually set up and manage tracking codes. Conversely, GA4 is more intuitive and user-friendly, providing automatic event tracking and streamlined data management. However, it may not possess the same level of advanced features as Universal Analytics.